Krista Phillips, Clean Energy and Transportation Strategist, Government of Nova Scotia, is passionate about the development of vibrant communities. She believes that by supporting our entrepreneurs and promoting new and innovative development, our communities can be energized, dynamic, and culturally exciting places to live! A civil engineer and project management professional with over 20 years experience, Krista has worked in the environmental remediation sector across Canada. She is currently working to develop policy and programs to modernize the transportation systems in Nova Scotia, including electric and alternative fuels in both land and marine transportation.
Krista crossed the virtual state to receive her MBA(Leadership) in October 2020. CEGE Connection reached out to Krista for her thoughts on her MBA journey and how life-long learning has opened her to new opportunities.
I enrolled in the MBA program to change the direction of my career. I am an engineer and worked in the environmental consulting industry for many years. My main role was as a project, team, and client manager. I found that once I moved into a government position, I was largely seen as an exclusively technical person, which can limit opportunities for advancement and continued career growth, certainly in the direction I wanted to pursue.
Also, working in consulting had given me a background in some aspects of business management, but I found I had many questions related to senior decision making and corporate strategy. For those reasons, I decided an MBA would give me strengths in areas where I was lacking, as well as a different perspective and way of looking at both problems and opportunities.
Keeping the balance between work, study, and life required focus and a flexible mindset. When I initially considered doing an MBA, my consulting job required a lot of evenings and weekend work, and last-minute travel. With my current position I was fortunate that I had available time, which allowed me to schedule my schoolwork in such a way that I could work full time and study three or so evenings each week, working on weekends as needed. Typically, I would do all my reading and study work during the week and complete my assignments on weekends, when there were more periods of uninterrupted time.
The distance learning model used by Centre for Executive and Graduate Education for their MBA programs made it easy to schedule my own time, without having to attend a series of regular classes. I was able to study when I wanted, and still maintain a personal life.
Many people have said to me that they would have difficulty combining a full-time career with a robust academic course load. It certainly does require discipline to sidestep the temptation of procrastination, but once I became accustomed to the routine it became a part of my daily activities.
My work for the government is focused on addressing climate change through innovation, renewable energy, and clean transportation. These are all new and emerging sectors which need support to be adopted and integrated into our daily lives. The MBA(Leadership) positioned me to identify and employ strategic thinking and planning, skillsets necessary to evaluate and explore solutions for complex situations.
I now look at problems from various points of view and understand how senior leadership manages the decision-making processes. This MBA(Leadership) program helped me to change how I see each situation, to allow more room for differing opinions, and to remain flexible in my approach.
The program has a heavy focus on presentations to professors and classmates. Having delivered at least a dozen presentations has increased my confidence in public speaking events at conferences and seminars. This confidence is evident when I deliver briefings to senior executives and present my ideas to colleagues.
I chose the leadership stream of the MBA program, the direction in which my career is taking me. Whether it is in a senior executive leadership position, or simply applying my learnings while mentoring junior staff, these skills will be valuable throughout the rest of my career.
What are my next steps? Now that I have completed my MBA, this is the question I am currently exploring. I have a few ideas and avenues I am pursuing that will allow me to keep growing within an industry that I love. My goal is to make a positive impact in the climate change and clean energy sectors.